During and after my PhD, I had the opportunity to act as a mentor, coordinator, or administrator of numerous NSF and NIH funded summer research programs. I find these programs to be the most effective form of teaching, engaging students fully in the process of doing science. Most of the students who sparked their passion for science during these summer programs are still in touch with me about their progress through life and science.
In my position as Director of Undergraduate Programs at OTS, I interacted with dozens of experienced REU program directors at the REU BIO meetings and was responsible for supervising program staff and seeking continuing funding. Through these experiences, I developed my understanding for best practices in mentoring students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, encouraging student self-confidence in science, and fostering multicultural collaboration.
At OTS, I was a research mentor, program coordinator, or administrator for 6 years of the NSF REU program at La Selva Biological Station which is targeted at underrepresented minorities. I also participated as an invited professor and an administrator in 6 years of the NAPIRE (Native American and Pacific Islander Research Experience) program with funding from NSF-LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation).
At the University of Miami, I participated as a group leader for 2 summers with an NIH (National Institutes of Health) funded summer outreach program with underserved middle school students and teachers called Research in Ecology. My research group examined the regional genetic diversity of a species of endangered pine tree, first collecting samples from the Miami area and then conducting PCR and sequencing to quantify genetic diversity.